If you have a dog or another companion animal, it probably seems more like a friend or child to you. In fact, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association, upwards of 85% of Americans treat their pets like members of their families. Still, during your divorce, the makeup of your family automatically changes.
When you divorce your spouse, the two of you must divide everything you own. Under Massachusetts law, your dog is an asset that is subject to the commonwealth’s property division scheme. Nevertheless, because you obviously cannot cut the animal into two equitable parts, you may wonder what exactly happens to your dog during your divorce.
Can you agree?
It is not uncommon for divorcing couples to negotiate property division. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can reach an agreement about the dog’s future ownership, a judge is likely to respect your resolution. This may be true even if the two of you decide to negotiate a shared-custody arrangement.
Do you have a good argument?
If you and your husband or wife cannot agree, you may have to explain why the dog should end up with you. To do so, it is advisable to think of all the ways you provide for the animal. These may include purchasing food, attending vet visits or even walking the dog. It also may be helpful to show the dog has a stronger bond with you than with your soon-to-be ex-spouse.
Ultimately, if keeping your dog is high on your priority list, it is advisable to think about which assets you are willing to give up to keep the animal.